Wabi Sabi, not to be confused with that new sushi restaurant

by Finola In January we hosted N’s eighth birthday party. N is a very crafty little girl, and the poor thing has a mother who absolutely cannot stand doing crafts. I even hated doing them when I was a kid. I could never cut the shapes the right way, and my gluing skills were just embarrassing. I never knew what the next step was supposed to be, and I remember dreading art class days at school. So when it comes to doing crafts, N and her little sister B are on their own, or else they are farmed out into someone else’s more dexterous and patient hands.

Last year N had her birthday party at Gotta Paint on Kirkwood Ave and Richmond Rd., where the girls painted ceramics, and N would have been happy to go there again because she liked it so much. I would have been fine with that too, because they did quite a good job of entertaining a pile of girls for a couple of hours.

Over the Christmas holidays, however, we wandered into Wabi Sabi, which is a knitting, spinning, and weaving shop located on Wellington St. West in Hintonburg. We knew a little bit about Wabi Sabi because we know the lovely Carol Secord who owns this store. As soon as you walk in, you feel peaceful and calm. The colours of the fibres on display are rich and warm, and the layout is open and very welcoming.

From Wikipedia:

Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience

This is a most accurate description of Wabi Sabi, the store.

I knew that Wabi Sabi hosted different workshops for children right in the store, and so we decided to look into this idea for our crafty daughter’s birthday party. We asked N what she thought, and she was absolutely sold on the idea.

There were a few options to choose from for the party, none of which were knitting per se, but all based on fabric and needles and making things, so really there was no way to go wrong here. N decided that she wanted to make pencil cases, which we thought was an ideal project. Fun and functional. We called Carol and set it all up, and out went the invitations.

Making the pencil cases involved “felting”. When we arrived at the store on the day of the birthday party, the zippers had already been pre-sewn to the felt for us. The girls then decorated their felt pencil cases by taking fluffy fibrous material and attaching this material to the felt using a poking-with-needle technique (sorry to be so technical here). A few fingers were damaged in the process, but there was nothing too serious and only a very small amount of blood. Tony and I helped some of the girls who were overly ambitious with their fluff additions, so that they could finish poking in the material before it was time to go home. It was quite relaxing and relatively low stress. The next step was to sew up the pencil cases using a blanket stitch, which even I was able to pick up fairly quickly, even though I never did get the hang of changing the thread.

The girls all worked at their own paces, and the party flowed smoothly and very quickly. We took a break to eat pizza and cake, and then the girls could keep working on their projects. There was no time in the two hours to open presents, which suited us just fine. Some girls finished their projects with plenty of time, while others had to bring their pencil cases home to finish sewing them. The party facilitators were both kind and helpful and my girls definitely had a great time.

To make the party a bit more festive, we brought along N’s mp3 player and hooked it up to her new iPig (which is completely adorable). Most of the songs were the pop fare preferred by the pre-tween set, but I did manage to get a couple of songs that I like on there too. And surprisingly Punk Rock Girl by the Dead Milkmen is boppy enough that it didn’t totally stand out from the Miley and Taylor songs, though the party attendees did seem to notice the difference and were looking a little skeptical when that one came on. Hmm.

I loved Wabi Sabi and I loved N’s birthday party. I would really like to take up knitting again and I am going to look into signing up for one of their workshops for grown-ups.

Finola is the mother of two crafty girls aged 8 and 6. You can find her at www.finolablog.com